With Anwar and Nik Aziz gone


That is the culture of PAS. Hadi may be the party president but Nik Aziz is the old man. So the party president would listen to the old man just like Umno still listens to its old man, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, even though Najib Tun Razak is the party president and prime minister.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Anwar Ibrahim and Tok Guru Abdul Hadi Awang never had a good relationship even back in the early days, long before the former decided to join Umno. However, out of respect for the party elders, Hadi kept his peace and obeyed what the elders wanted.

That, basically, is how they do things in the Islamic Party of Malaysia, PAS — until quite recently, of course, where the new party culture appears to be to oppose the elders, PKR-style.

Hadi has his very strong beliefs and opinions but the then party president, Ustaz Fadzil Noor, loved Anwar even when Anwar joined Umno. Ustaz Fadzil never hated Anwar for abandoning the cause but he certainly was very hurt and disappointed.

In September 1998, when Anwar was sacked from both the government and Umno, and even before be was arrested about three weeks later, Ustaz Fadzil surprised his party by going to Anwar’s house as a show of support. Thereafter PAS became Anwar’s biggest and strongest backer, many months before Anwar’s own party, Parti Keadilan Nasional, was launched on 4th April 1999.

Just before the November 1999 general election, after a long and very difficult negotiation that almost made it impossible to happen, PAS, PKN, DAP and PRM agreed to form an opposition alliance called Barisan Alternatif. And the man that made this possible was Ustaz Fadzil. Without him there would have been no opposition coalition.

In fact, Ustaz Fadzil also launched and headed the anti-ISA movement that eventually, after a long, hard struggle, saw the detention without trial law abolished.

When Ustaz Fadzil died and Tok Guru Hadi took over the presidency of the party, many expected the relationship between PAS and PKR (and maybe even with DAP as well) to deteriorate. The man who saved the day was PKR’s Deputy President, Abdul Rahman Othman a.k.a. ARO.

One of the first things that ARO did was to have breakfast with Hadi and hammer out an understanding. ARO knew that unless he could build a bridge with Hadi, the relationship between PAS and PKR might suffer.

ARO did such a good job that Hadi even gave him the PAS seat of Putrajaya to contest (personal to holder and not to the party) and Hadi even went to Putrajaya to help in the election campaign.

Even the PAS machinery was initially upset and wanted to boycott the campaign but because of Ustaz Hadi they rallied behind ARO. In fact, no one from PKR went to Putrajaya to help ARO. His entire campaign machinery was from PAS.

Since Hadi became the PAS President, things have not always been smooth. The opposition coalition, Barisan Alternatif, broke up soon after the 1999 general election and did not exist during the 2004 general election. But Tok Guru Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat brought everyone back together again in 2008 under the umbrella of Pakatan Rakyat.

In short, without Nik Aziz, there would not have been a Pakatan Rakyat. And every time Anwar faced an obstacle or roadblock, he would go running to Nik Aziz, who would sort out whatever problems they were facing.

Hadi is more of a tough nut to crack. And so is Anwar to a certain extent, stubborn like hell. But Nik Aziz was always there to play peacemaker and to make sure that Hadi and Anwar kept their emotions in check for the good of the opposition alliance and with the common objective of kicking out Umno and Barisan Nasional.

That is the culture of PAS. Hadi may be the party president but Nik Aziz is the old man. So the party president would listen to the old man just like Umno still listens to its old man, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, even though Najib Tun Razak is the party president and prime minister.

Now Nik Aziz is no longer with us. And this means the ‘soft’ man is gone leaving only the ‘harder’ man, Hadi, to run things. The good news, though, if that can be regarded as good news, is that Anwar is also out of the scene. Hence Hadi may not have to deal with Anwar after all. And without Nik Aziz around there is no way Hadi and Anwar can see eye-to-eye.

Our only hope is that Pakatan Rakyat will appoint a new Opposition Leader who can gain acceptance from both PAS and DAP. With Nik Aziz dead and Anwar in jail — and who we hope will no longer call the shots from prison — we need someone who can smoothen things a bit after the very chaotic 16 months or so.

PKR’s and DAP’s game plan is to oust Hadi and get him replaced with someone more friendly. That may only work halfway because they would still have the ulama’ faction to deal with and most of the ulama’ are with Hadi. Hence this would make matters even worse.

PKR and DAP should stay out of PAS’ internal matters. After all, PKR and DAP also have their own internal problems which are far from resolved. How would PKR or DAP feel if Hadi or PAS interfere in their internal party matters?

Let PAS sort out its own party problems with no interference from PKR or DAP. PKR and DAP should instead look for a new Opposition Leader acceptable to all who can play the role of moderator. After all, PKR and DAP did say that they want Hadi and PAS to agree to work on consensus. And consensus means all three must agree and not that PAS must agree with what PKR and DAP want.

Yes, with Nik Aziz gone and Anwar indisposed, now would be a good time to repair the damaged relationship. With Nik Aziz gone and Anwar indisposed, a new man or woman is needed to play this role of peacemaker. And breaking up PAS into two parties will not achieve this. It would just mean the end of Pakatan Rakyat as we know it.